What happens if someone dies in space?

Paschim Press
Monday 11th December 2023
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  • What happens if someone dies in space?

    Mahendranagar, 8 August

    Sending humans into space is certainly an extraordinarily difficult and dangerous task. In the 60 years since man began exploring space, only 20 people have died, including 14 in NASA spacecraft crashes in 1986 and 2003, three astronauts in the 1971 Soyuz 11 mission, and three in the Apollo 1 launch pad fire in 1967. died

    Understanding the complexity of manned spaceflight becomes really important to understand why so few people have lost their lives so far. However, NASA plans to send a manned spacecraft to the Moon in 2025 and to Mars in the next decade. Commercial spaceflight has become routine. As space travel becomes more common, the possibility of a passenger dying in space is also increasing. This raises an interesting, but important question: If someone dies in space, what happens to that body?

    What happens when there is death on the moon and Mars?
    As a space physician looking for new ways to keep astronauts healthy, my team at the Translational Research Institute for Space Health and I want to make sure that space explorers can stay as healthy as they need for space missions. Here's how deaths in space are handled these days.

    If someone dies in low Earth orbit during a space mission (such as the International Space Station), the crew can place the body in a capsule and return it to Earth within hours. Even if the death occurred on the moon, the crew could return to Earth within days with the body. NASA already has detailed protocols for what to do in such an event. Therefore, preservation of the bodies of the dead would not appear to be a major concern of NASA as they would be returned in a bad form. Instead, the first priority is to ensure that the rest of the crew return safely to Earth. However, if an astronaut dies during the 300 million mile trip to Mars, the situation will be different. In that scenario the crew would not be able to return to return the body to Earth and continue the mission again. Instead, the body of the deceased astronaut will likely return to Earth with the crew at the end of the mission, which could be several years later.

    Meanwhile, the crew will keep the body safe in a separate chamber or body bag. The uniform temperature and humidity inside the spacecraft will help preserve the body. However, all of these scenarios apply only when death occurs in an air-conditioned environment, i.e. inside a spacecraft or space station.

    But what happens if a person goes out into space without the protection of a space suit? In that case, the astronaut dies instantly. The lack of necessary external pressure on the body and the encounter with the vacuum of space make it impossible for the astronaut to breathe. His blood and other body fluids will boil. What would happen if an astronaut went out on the moon or Mars without a space suit?

    The Moon has almost no atmosphere (though very little). Even on Mars, the atmosphere is very thin and has almost no oxygen. Therefore, the result will be similar to exposure in space. That is, the person will suffocate and his blood will boil like hot water.

    What about cremation?
    For example, if an astronaut dies after landing on the surface of Mars, then cremation cannot be expected. Because there will be more energy consumption for cremation than other surviving crew members will need for other purposes. The idea of burying the dead body in the soil of Mars itself is not good. Bacteria and other organisms from corpses can contaminate Mars. Instead, the crew will store the dead body in a special body bag until they return to Earth.

    Much remains unknown about how explorers manage dead bodies during space missions. It is not just a question of what to do with the dead body. Helping the crew to cope with the death of a fellow passenger, and helping the bereaved family on earth is also as important as managing the body of the deceased. Whether it is the Moon or Mars or any planet outside our solar system, colonizing other worlds will require planning and regulations for this serious scenario.

    – From The Conversation

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